ON THE ATC'S DESIGNATION OF FOUR CORDILLERA ACTIVISTS AND TWO OTHERS AS TERRORISTS
By Teddy Casiño
July 11, 2023
Our worst fears about the Anti Terrorist Act (ATA) is now happening in full swing.
The latest action of the Anti Terrorism Council designating six persons, including four activists from the Cordillera and two other individuals, on the basis of mere allegations and unknown pieces of information, and without benefit of any hearing or mechanism for due process, validates our earlier warning that the law can and will be abused to target activists, government critics, members of progressive movements and organizations, and practically anyone considered a threat by the national security cluster.
Activists Windel Bolinget, Jen Awingan, Sarah Abellon-Alikes, and Steve Tauli are all long-time leaders of the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA). Early this year, the trumped up rebellion case against them and three others were dismissed. Last June 19, they filed an appeal to the Supreme Court for the issuance of a writ of amparo to protect them from the continuing threats to their life, liberty and security perpetrated by the AFP, PNP and NTF-ELCAC.
Their designation as terrorists by the ATC is the latest effort to intimidate, harass and threaten them into silence and inactivity. It allows the government to freeze their accounts and properties, including personal funds and those for their families. It sets them up for public humiliation, discrimination and physical attack. All without benefit of public hearing or any due process.
The ATC’s action is the latest in a string of incidents involving the use of the Anti Terrorism Act against activists. Last month, human rights activists Ken Rementilla, Jasmin Rubia and Hailey Pecayo were charged with terrorism for taking up the cudgels for 9-year old Kyllene Casao who was killed by suspected elements of the Philippine Army’s 59th IB in Taysan, Batangas.
Since last year, access to 26 websites of progressive organizations and critical media have been blocked by the National Telecommunications Commission upon orders of the ATC.
These are just some of the cases of the ATA being weaponized against members of organizations known to be critical of the government.
This latest act of the ATC is tantamount to trial by publicity using guilt by association. We call on our people to oppose this blatant violation of the right to due process and freedom of association enshrined in the Bill of Rights.#